The Guinea Grill
30 Bruton Place, W1J 6NL
WLC Rank : 76
Glass from : £ 7.20 (125 ml)
A gloriously retro neon script wraps the bay window of Mayfair’s Guinea Grill, under which, in top hat and gold-edged green tails, doorman and restaurant writer, Dominic Rowntree emerges to welcome in diners. Legend has it an inn stood here on Bruton Place since 1423, when The Pound, named after an animal pen, looked over fields. It is charismatically run by the realisation of the ideal landlord, Oisin Rogers, an exacting, sharply dressed, eccentric Irishman with an angelic singing voice, who maintains a sharp wine list and sublime Guinness as well as ales from Young’s who are proud of their flagship pub. Complete with tall toque, Rodgers proved his adeptness, too, in the venue’s small kitchen on my visit.
Beyond the cosy bar is a counter previewing meat from Northumberland and Scotland on the bone cared for by butchers Godfreys, who have maintained a dry ageing room for The Guinea for decades, and a warren of tartan carpeted dining rooms.
Begin with Scottish native oysters and ozone-scented Manzanilla (Barbiana Selecta), or devilled kidneys on toast, perhaps with Tuscan Syrah, La Braccesca (Achelo), and follow on with a 16oz rib on the bone with a lamb cutlet on the side, as well as and garlic and parmesan courgettes. The main meaty act, which is cooked simply without char to preserve its flavour, will work with one of the many maturing Clarets from the large cellar, a posh Portuguese (Chryseia, Prats & Symington) or serious Spanish producer (Contador Rioja). Guado al Tasso’s Il Bruciato and Château Musar are often favoured by the many regulars. There are big guns too from the Americas (Almaviva and Opus One) and fine-tuned sweeties, such as Château Suduiraut to accompany Roquefort, which Rodgers doesn’t want to blight with crackers. For pudding, head chef Nathan Richardson realises such homely pleasures as Christmas pudding, available, it seems, well into the new year – made to Rodger’s grandma’s recipe. The only omission for the venerable British institution is English wine.
Service is fine-tuned, glassware is Riedel, and the ample steaks are arguably London’s best.
By Douglas Blyde.